Eastern Screech Owl

Otus asio

NH Conservation Status: Not listed

State Rank Status: No data for NH. Population trend is unknown.

Distribution: Year-round resident in southern parts of NH.

Description: Up to 10” long with up to 24” wingspan. Males are smaller than females. Body color can be red or gray, eyes are yellow and ear tufts are visible when raised.

Voice: Both males and females sing and both may sing during the day or night. Songs can be a descending whinny sounding like a horse in the woods, or an even, monotone trill similar to a gray tree frog but not as high-pitched.

Commonly Confused Species: Northern saw-whet owls are smaller and lack ear tufts.

Habitat: Open woodlands near fields, meadows or marshes, with cavity trees for nesting & roosting. They do well in developed areas such as suburbs where prey is plentiful and there are fewer predators.

Nesting: Pairs are usually monogamous and stay together for life. Nesting occurs in tree cavities, nest boxes or other pre-existing openings. A full clutch consists of 2-6 eggs which the female incubates for up to 34 days while the male searches for food to bring to her. Young are born with their eyes closed and white down and are able to fly after about 1 month. The male continues to bring the female and young food and the young continue to depend on their parents to find food for the first couple of months after fledging.

Diet: Varied diet includes small birds and mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Food is regurgitated in oval shaped pellets once or twice per day.